The Hole to Luck

Interview with famous self-trepanner Dr. Bart Huges
as questioned by Joe Mellen, The Transatlantic Review No. 23, Winter 1966-1967

M: You were born in Amsterdam on the 21st April, 1934. Your father was a doctor, as his before him. Your mother died when you were two and a half years old. When Holland was occupied by the Nazis you were six. What are your memories of the war?

H: Well, individually, I had a good time as children do. I remember the hunger and the disappearance of Jewish friends, and once Germans came to arrest my father because he had refused to become a member of their "Kulturzimmer." He hid under a sofa in his waiting-room. The Germans waited for a long time, sitting on him. I remember seeing my grandfather at the end of the war. He had oedema of the legs caused by lack of protein - they were puffed-up with water. He was completely starved. At the age of 85 he had been eating grass and leaves from the wood behind his house. That was all there was to eat.

Liberation meant food - different uniforms in the streets, handing out chocolate to the children.

M: At school what were your main interests?

H: I had many interests: girls - I had twenty-five girlfriends when I was eleven; marbles - in the last year of the war I won a lot of money at marbles, selling back those I'd won and buying ice creams for my girlfriends. I also had many animals, mainly reptiles and amphibians. At eleven I had fifty snakes, lizards, toads, frogs, newts etc. At eighteen the number was three hundred and eighty-five - that's the most I've had at the same time. I was fond of drawing and painting in watercolors, and after fourteen I spent more time on my homework, had one girlfriend, played table tennis and chess.

The last three years at school (from seventeen to twenty) were boring. I slept through the classes waiting for them to end. At that time I read a lot, mainly philosophy - Plato, Nietzsche, Freud, Pavlov, Hesse, etc. My interest in reading was awakened by Henk, who gave me a course of books to read. He was the only adult with whom I had contact, and my confidence in them was badly shaken when he committed suicide.

M: On leaving school you started your medical studies. Why did you decide to do that?

H: My original idea (as a child) to study biology developed into a study of the hairless, talking ape. I wanted to specialize in psychiatry and psychoanalysis and then teach the subject.

M: When did you first take LSD?

H: In 1958, as a subject in a series of psychiatric experiments at the Psychiatric Department of the University Hospital in Amsterdam.

M: Did you take sugar?

H: No, because I hadn't discovered the mechanism then. I thought all sugar-lack symptoms were essential parts of the experience. [1]

M: Did you enjoy it?

H: Yes, though at the end I was very scared by the visual distortions (caused by sugar-lack). I saw three of the doctors as a devil with horns, a pig and a chimpanzee. Six others on the experiment saw the devil and three saw the pig.

M: In 1960 you were married on the 15th March and then continued your studies. Did you have any more LSD experiences?

H: Yes, both Barbara and I had one more experience. We both enjoyed it.

M: Did you finish your medical studies?

H: Yes, in 1962 I took the main part of the doctorate exam (the semi-arts), including psychiatry, neurology and pharmacology, and passed it. The second part (obstetrics and surgery) I took in April 1964, and failed in a theoretical part of the obstetrics exam. I took it again in front of the same doctor (it was the final part I failed - a ten minute oral exam in private with one doctor) and failed again. After that the government withdrew my grant, so I decided to forget it.

M: After ten years of study?

H: All my friends smoked and had tried unsuccessfully to turn me on, but in the summer of 1962, after I'd passed the semi-arts exam, I went on holiday to Ibiza to find out for myself if pot has similar effect to LSD and to see if it had any addictive qualities. In all the books I had read it appeared as a non-toxic substance. I smoked as much as I could for a while then suddenly stopped. Noticing no withdrawal symptoms, I then started smoking again.

M: In January 1963 you had a daughter, whom you named Maria Juana. What were the reactions to that?

H: All sorts of hysterical nonsense. There were photographs of her, scandal articles, associations with orgies, declarations that my wife and I were not married etc.

M: In November 1962 you discovered the mechanism of brainbloodvolume. What led to the discovery?

H: Having got high from smoking pot in Ibiza, I met Titi there. He used to stand on his head at parties for considerable periods of time. When I asked him why he did it, he said it got him high. My father stood on his head every morning - "to keep fit" he said - I had always felt fit anyhow, so had seen no reason to adopt the practice myself. But now I stood on my head for a quarter of an hour and got high.

In November, in Amsterdam, Germ (who has the third eye from a car accident, and who named his Daughter Mescalina) gave me some mescaline, and it was then that I got my first clear picture of the mechanism, realizing that it was the increase in the volume of brainblood that gave the expanded consciousness. An improvement of function must have been caused by more blood in the brain which meant there must have been less of something else. Then I realized that it must be the volume of cerebrospinal fluid that was decreased. [2]

M: How did you discover the action?

H: Although I was aware of the effect of the action - to increase the brainbloodvolume - at that time I hadn't perceived the action itself, the constriction of the veins. I perceived that later, on LSD. [3]

M: So once you had discovered that expanded consciousness was caused by an increase in the brainbloodvolume it was a logical step to the need for sugar with LSD etc.?

H: Yes. That brain cells take more glucose from the blood than bodily cells do is common knowledge in the medical profession.

M: Sugar-lack is inevitable if you increase your brainbloodvolume?

H: Yes. The brain lives on glucose and oxygen, whatever anyone says about the holy ghost and spiritual bread.

M: When did you decide to have the "third eye"?

H: In prison, having checked the mechanism by perceiving the cerebrospinal fluid in the back outside the central nervous system (after using the pressed-up method described in the scroll,) I thought about making a hole at the base of the spine to let the fluid out, and while thinking about holes I realized that pressure was necessary to squeeze the cerebrospinal fluid out of the system. Then, having concluded upon the nil pressure inside the adult skull (in most people the skull seals between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two,) I saw that any hole in the bony surrounding of the system would give the pressure back. But after a time I realized a hole in the spine would heal over so it had to be in the skull, where holes stay open.

M: Once you had decided to have the "third eye," what did you do?

H: One of the main reasons I wrote the scroll was to give the knowledge to the doctors. I visited about twenty professors, of psychiatry, anthropology, neuro-anatomy etc. and their reactions were without exception negative.

M: What do you mean negative?

H: They were polite but uncooperative. Two surgeons said they understood the mechanism, but dared not even ask their superiors for permission to perform the operation.

M: For how long did you try to find a doctor to do it before deciding to do it by yourself?

H: For two years

M: Then on January 6th, 1965, despairing of assistance from the medical profession, you operated on yourself?

H: I had planned originally to do it six months earlier, but my friends took away my tools and prevented me from operating.

M: So you had to conceal your intention the second time.

H: Yes. My wife knew I was going to do it, but no one knew when.

M: What tools did you use?

H: An electric drill, a surgical knife, and a hypodermic syringe for the local anesthetic.

M: How long did the operation take?

H: Three quarters of an hour

M: Was there any pain?

H: No.

M: Not even afterwards?

H: No.

M: How long was it before the wound healed?

H: Three days.

M: What was the effect you noticed?

H: The appearance of pressure inside the skull. It took about four hours for the cerebrospinal fluid to be pressed out.

M: And now you are permanently high. How would you describe your state to someone who had never taken conscious-expanding drugs or stood on their head for a quarter of an hour?

H: I feel as I felt before the age of fourteen.

M: If you are permanently high now, aren't you on a permanent sugar-lack?

H: The sugar-level in my blood is lower that it was, but the liver and adrenal glands have adapted to the greater need for glucose.

M: What happened after the operation?

H: I made it public ten days later, by having the bandage removed at a "happening." A week later I gave a press conference, before which I went to the University hospital to have an X-ray photograph taken. I was detained for an hour by two psychiatrists and released only when I promised to return the following day. I told the journalists this, but they didn't mention it in the papers. The next day I went back with two witnesses. Then ten male nurses formed a circle around me and forced me into the clinic, where I was kept involuntarily for three weeks, for "observation." The day after my release the news was announced in the press. A month later I made a television appearance, soon after which the government issued a statement - read out in the television news - to the effect that Bart Huges's scroll "Homo Sapiens Correctus" was not 99% but 100% nonsense!

M: Do you advocate the "third eye" for everyone?

H: I advocate the availability of trepanation for every adult who wants it.

M: Who will want it?

H: Everyone who understands the mechanism. There is no reason why a single adult should be left behind if he wants to be liberated from gravity's drag.

M: What you're saying is give the adult back his lost brainblood and he will look after himself, is that right?

H: Yes. With enough blood the central nervous system is a better doctor than your doctor.

M: What about diet?

H: Eat a salad every day.

M: Do you think the adult state can have any advantages over the trepanned state?

H: No. The older one is, the more will trepanation increase the benefits of experience.

M: You have said that social reform must start with the individual. Can you expand on that?

H: Gravity is the enemy. The adult is its victim - society is its disease. My problem is how to explain to the adult that he has too little blood in his brain to understand, if he has too little blood in his brain to understand that.

M: Do you think that trepanned he can create a better social system?

H: I think that no construction of adults can work optimally unless each adult in the construction is trepanned.

M: Do you foresee many changes in a trepanned society?

H: Increased efficiency in social operations, the restriction of activity to the essential, and with the restoration of originality and creativity to the adult rapid progress in technology.

M: Do you see a future for art?

H: With a rejuvenated adult, art is likely to become a common activity - no longer an "in" commercial enterprise.

M: You have been accused of evangelism, of coming as a Messiah. What do you think of that?

H: I do really prefer my trepanned state to my previous adult state, but I am an atheist and certainly not sent by anyone.

M: Do you think LSD should be available to the general public?

H: Only with sugar (1 pound per trip) and extra vitamin C, and in supervised centers. Supervision by those who understand the mechanism is necessary to prevent people from falling the victims of their own ignorance.

M: Your view is optimistic, but can you be sure that in a trepanned society the particular interests of the individuals will complement each other? Might it not be merely an acceleration of conflict and chaos?

H: I am sure that the increase in common sense will result in an increase of cooperation. There will be less conflict and chaos because communication will depend less on the number of words and more on their meaning.

M: There is a lot of talk among our wilder "visionaries" about a change in the modes of communication, the substitution of colors for words for example. How about that?

H: I think it's a good idea to exchange the unnecessary words for colors and keep the few left for communication of information.

M: Do you think man can live without religion?

H: Trepanned man will not find it necessary to give meanings to abstract words, or to invent new superstitions. "Faith in the immortality of the soul" is a chain of associated meaningless words.

M: Is there any hope of something replacing fear as the motive impulse behind behavior?

H: Gravity is the enemy. A large part of adult behavior is motivated by the fear of losing the grip on what blood is left in the brain. Trepanation, by restoring the blood lost in the course of growth removes the main cause of fear.

M: In a trepanned society there will be more individuality and independence than in the present one. What part do you see the state playing?

H: I think the state should serve the individuals, not vice versa. It should provide all essential needs.

M: How do you explain the turning to Eastern doctrines and religions which the use of LSD has brought in America?

H: It is a reaction to the apparent chaos of Western civilization - but they don't know the mechanism, so they don't take sugar. I can understand them looking elsewhere than in America, seeking "the secret" in the esoteric doctrines of ancient religions - but of course there is no secret.

M: Do you think the mechanism has been known before?

H: There are no signs that the mechanism itself has been known, though facts connected with it, around it, have been known - for instance yoga headstands and trepanation have always been practiced.

M: Has trepanation been used as the cure for insanity before?

H: Yes. It is described as such in the painting and writing of Hieronymous Bosch.

M: Why do you think the practice has died out?

H: It must have got an undesirable reputation because it was known as a cure for insanity. It was probably regarded as a stigma showing that the bearer had been insane.

M: But it has never, to your knowledge, been used for other reasons?

H: Not on a large scale. Certain ancient civilizations used it, and it has been and still is a religious practice in some parts of the world. In central Africa it is used commonly for the treatment of a variety of diseases.

M: The established Western view of the operation is that it constitutes mutilation, that it has no indication?

H: Yes. The mechanism is unknown to the medical profession. In fact there are two indications: the general one is adulthood, the particular one insanity.

M: Adulthood is hardly a disease, is it?

H: It is the end of youth, an unnecessary handicap. Whether you call the loss of brainbloodvolume to gravity a disease or not is irrelevant - it is certainly a loss, which can be recovered.

M: Is there any contradiction?

H: No. I suppose in cases of severe adulthood there might be a depression immediately after the operation in a period of retrospection.

M: How did you come to the realization that the Ego is a conditioned reflex?

H: From the observation that other people's egos were deconditioned by prolonged sugar-lack, I concluded that the Ego is a conditioned reflex.

M: What was it thought to be before?

H: Freud gives it a place among parts of the personality, but does not define it. Descartes said cogito ergo sum, and Satre had some thoughts about it - I forget what they were.

M: You have been quoted in the newspapers as saying that anyone can easily trepan himself. Is this your opinion?

H: In the scroll I have written "With today's knowledge of operating techniques one can easily do this by oneself." I have not written "Without today's knowledge..." because I did not mean that.

M: One last question. What is your definition of genius?

H: Someone born with knowledge of the difference between no and yes.

Footnotes by Amy Walker:

[1] It is uncertain if Joe Mellen actually means ‘sugar’ or if he means glucose or carbohydrate. He could be referring to all carbohydrates or to glucose since all carbohydrate gets converted to glucose before it can be used by the body.
[2] In order to protect itself from infection, blood never actually reaches the brain. The blood/brain barrier allows only some substances to cross into the cerebral spinal fluid, which then passes the nutrients on to the brain cells. The brain actually has its own circulatory system, which eventually drains into the lymph which drains back into the blood before it enters the heart. The cells which produce cerebral spinal fluid do so constantly, so losing the fluid after it’s aged is also another method of insuring the brain doesn’t get an infection.
[3] Possibly Dr. Huges means constriction of the arteries rather than ‘constriction of the veins’. Arteries constrict because they have a layer of muscle as the center of the three layers. Veins don’t constrict and are passive.